[CQ-Contest] Contesters and Emergency Comms

Ward Silver hwardsil at centurytel.net
Wed Mar 19 09:29:15 EST 2003

> K4OJ is on the mark with his comments about emergency communication and
the role contesters sometimes play.  Back in the early 70's or late 60's
when the > dam went out in Rapid City, South Dakota one of the Rapid City
DX/Contest types had high power mobile DXing setup.  He was drafted to serve
as the
> primary emergency communications point for Rapid City.  At this time I no
longer remember his call.
> The state of Iowa Emergency Management Division amateur radio station
became a primary funnel for traffic in and out of Rapid City due to 24
> coverage between 40/80 Meters.  The local Des Moines club was struggling
to staff the Iowa Emergency Management Division Amateur Radio station and
> handle the message traffic.
> I remember getting a phone call asking if I could help them.  I sat for 28
hours in front of a Collins-S Line and handled over 1200 health and welfare
> When ask how I was able to do this, I explained it was due to contesting
and Dxing experience.
> Unfortunatley in the event of a major crisis there might be a problem as
the Iowa Emergency Management Division Amateur Radio station has come to
> primarily on VHF and UFH communications.

This is all true, but don't assume that in an emergency you can just show up
and suddenly be an expert in emergency communications just because you made
1000 QSOs last weekend.  To make the most of your skills, you need to have
some familiarity with procedures and the agency being served - and a
willingness to put your ego on the back burner.  For sure, I think a
contester has superior operating skills and will probably be able to fit in
and contribute faster than a casual operator, but don't kid yourself about
the need to have a little background.

Taking the ARRL Emergency Communications on-line courses are a good start -
and cheap, EC-001 is often completely reimbursed.  You can also participate
in a local ARES or RACES group - they will appreciate station-building
advice and assistance, especially.  Get a little experience with a traffic
net by checking in on occasion and generating or relaying a radiogram or
two.  This is the ARRL emergency services URL -

Given the state of world affairs these days, it might not be a bad idea to
be sure your own station is capable of emergency operations and that you
have a "go kit" made up if your services are needed.

73, Ward N0AX

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